Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV
Your Bible Version is the KJV
Go to Top
Link to This Page Cite This Page
Share this page Follow the BLB
Printable Page
The Blue Letter Bible

Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

Choose a new font size and typeface

xciii. αὐθάδης, φίλαυτος.

The etymology of these words holds out, perhaps, the expectation of a greater nearness of meaning than in actual use is the ease. Yet they sometimes occur together, as in Plutarch (De Rect. Rat. Aud. 6), nor can it be denied that ‘the pleaser of himself’ and ‘the lover of himself’ stand in sufficient moral proximity, and are sufficiently liable to be. confounded, to justify an attempt to distinguish them one from the other.

Αὐθάδης (== αὐτοάδης, or αὑτῷ ἁδῶν, as Aristotle informs us, Ethic. M. i. 28), ‘sibi placens,’ occurs twice in the N. T. (Tit. 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:10), and three times in the Old (Gen. 49:3, 7; Prov. 21:24); αὐθάδεια never in the New, but once in the Old (Isai. 24:8, Alex.).

The αὐθάδης, who etymologically is hardly distinguishable from the αὐτάρεσκος, —but the word is of earlier and more classical use,—is properly one who pleases himself, who is so pleased with his own that nothing pleases hint besides: ‘qui nisi quod ipse facit nihil rectum putat’ (Terence, Adelph. iv. 2. 18). He is one so far overvaluing any determination at which he has himself once arrived that he will not be removed from it; for this element of stubbornness or obstinacy which so often lies in αὐθάδεια see the Prometheus Vinctus of aeschylus, 1073: while Cicero translates it ‘pervicacia.” The man thus obstinately maintaining his own opinion, or asserting his own rights, is reckless of the rights, feelings and interests of others; one indeed who with no motive at all is prompt rather to run counter to these, than to fall in with them: ‘selbstgefällig, selbstsüchtig, anmassend, frech, sich um keinen andern kümmernd, rücksichtlos, grausam’ (Pott, Etym. Forsch. vol. iv. p. 315). Thus we find αὐθάδης associated with ἰδιογνώμων (Hippocrates, p. 295, 12. 29); with ἄγριος (Euripides, Med. 102); with πικρός (Ib. 223); with ἀμαθής (Plato); with χαλεπός (Id. Legg. 950 b); with ἀμείλικτος (Philo, Leg. ad Cai. 38); with σκληρός (Polybius, iv. 21; Plutarch, Symp. vii. 2. 1); with ἑπαχθής and αὐθέκαστος (Id. Proec. Ger. Reip. 31);—which last word does not necessarily bear an unfavourable meaning; thus see Aristotle, Ethic. Nic. iv. 7. 4; and lines ascribed to the Stoic Cleanthes, to be found in Eusebius, Proep. Evarig. xiii. 3; —with θράσυς (Plutarch, Marius, 408; Prov. 21:24); with ἀκόλαστος (De Gen. Soc. 9); with ἰταμός (De Laud. Scip. 16); with φιλόνεικος (Quom. Am. ab Adul. 32); with σκυθρωπός (Isocrates, see Rost and Palm); with ἀλαζών (Prov. 21:24); with προπετής (Clement of Rome, 1 Ep. § 1); with τολμητής (2 Pet. 2:10): αὐθάδεια with θράσος and τόλμα (Clement of Rome, 1 Ep. § 31); while the Greek grammarians give such words as ὑπερήφανος, θυμώδης ὑπερόπτης, as its nearest equivalents. Eudemus identifies him with the δύσκολος, and describes him as regulating his life with no respect to others (μηδὲν πρὸς ἕτερον ζῶν, Ethic. Eudem. iii. 7. 4; cf. Ethic. Nic. iv. 6. 9). He is the ‘praefractus,’ ‘pertinax,’ ‘morosus’ of the Latins, or, going nearer to the etymological heart of the word, the German ‘eigensinnig’; αὐθάδης is by Luther so translated; while our own ‘peevish’ and ‘humorous’ in their earlier uses both represent some traits and aspects of his character. He is opposed to the εὐπροσήγορος, the easy of access or affable (Plutarch, Proec. Reip. Ger. 31). In the unlovely gallery of portraits which Theophrastus has sketched for us, the αὐθάδης finds his place (Char. § 3); but this his rudeness of speech, his surliness, his bearishness as we should now say, is brought too exclusively out, as is evident from the very superficial and inadequate definition of αὐθάδεια by Theophrastus given, as being ἀπήνεια ὁμιλίας ἐν λόγοις.

Αὐθάδεια, which thus cares to please nobody, is by Aristotle (Rhet. ii. 19) set over against ἀρέσκεια, which is the ignoble seeking to please everybody, the endeavouring at all costs of dignity and truth to stand well with all the world; these two being in his ethical system the opposite extremes, between which σεμνότης constitutes the mean (see p. 347). There is always something to be learned from the hypocoristic phrases with which it is sought to give a fair show to an ugly thing; and it is worth therefore noticing that the αὐθάδης is called by his flatterers σεμνός and μεγαλοπρεπής (Aristotle, Rhet. i. 9. 3), while on the other hand a worthy freedom of speech (παῤῥησία) may be misnamed αὐθάδεια by those who resent, or would fain induce others to resent it. It was this hateful name which the sycophants of the younger Dionysius gave to the manly boldness of speech which Dion used, when they desired to work his ruin with the tyrant (Plutarch, Dion, 8).

Bengel profoundly remarks, and all experience bears out the truth of his remark, that there are men who are ‘simul et molles et duri’; at once soft and hard, soft to themselves, and hard to all the world besides; these two dispositions being in fact only two aspects and outcomings of the same sin, namely the wrong love of self. But if αὐθάδης expresses this sin on one side, φίλαυτος expresses it on the other. Having dealt with that, we may now proceed to treat a little of this. It need hardly be observed that when bad men are called φίλαυτοι, or ‘lovers of themselves,’ as by St. Paul they are on the one occasion when the word is employed in the N. T. (2 Tim. 3:2), the word can be only abusively applied; for, indeed, he is no true ‘lover of himself’ who loves himself overmuch, more than God’s law allows, or loves that in himself which he ought not to love but to hate, that which constitutes his sickness and may in the end be his death, and not his health. All this, when treating of this word, Aristotle brings out with admirable clearness and distinctness, and with an ethical feeling after, and in part at least anticipation of, that great word of Christ, “He that loveth his life shall lose it,” which is profoundly interesting to note (Ethic. Nic. ix. 8).

The φίλαυτος is exactly our ‘selfish’ (Plutarch, Cons. ad Apoll. 19; Quom. Am. ab Adul. 26), and φιλαυτία ‘selfishness’; but this contemplated rather as an undue sparing of self and providing things easy and pleasant for self, than as harshness and rigour toward others. Thus φίλαυτος is joined with φιλόψυχος by Plutarch (Dion, 46), this last epithet indicating one who so loves his life that he seeks ignobly to save it. Before the English language had generated the word ‘selfishness,’ which it only did toward the middle of the seventeenth century, there was an attempt made to supply an evident want in our ethical terminology by aid of ‘philauty’; thus see Beaumont’s Psyche, passim, and other similar poems. ‘Philauty,’ however, never succeeded in obtaining any firm footing among us, and ‘suicism,’ which was a second attempt, as little; an appeal to the Latin proving as unsuccessful as that to the Greek. Nor was the deficiency effectually supplied till the Puritan divines, drawing upon our native stock of words, brought in ‘selfish’ and ‘selfishness’ (see my English Past and Present, 10th ed. p. 171). One of these same divines helps me to a comparison, by aid of which the matter of the likeness and difference between αὐθάδης and φίλαυτος may be brought not inaptly to a point. He likens the selfish man to the hedgehog, which, rolling itself up in a ball, presents only sharp spines to those without, keeping at the same time all the soft and warm wool for itself within. In some sinful men their αὐθάδεια, the ungracious bearing towards others, the self-pleasing which is best pleased when it displeases others, is the leading feature of their character; in others the φιλαυτία, the undue providing of all which shall minister to their own ease, and keep hardness aloof from them. In each of these there is potentially wrapped up the other; but as the one sinful tendency predominates or the other, the man will merit the epithet of αὐθάδης or φίλαυτος.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G5367,G829.]

Return to the Table of Contents

BLB Searches
Search the Bible
Search KJV

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval
Search KJV

Let's Connect
Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

Donate Contact

Blue Letter Bible study tools make reading, searching and studying the Bible easy and rewarding.

Blue Letter Bible is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization